Even though this is an intellectual exercise, it helped me understand the concept, so I am posting it here in the thought that it might help the reader as well. By using the viewpoint of each level of experience, or what it would be like if that level really was the ‘I’ of your self, it helped me to understand what it might be like to actually be enlightened, to be One with All.
Although it seems very likely that any intellectual exercise on this will be only a tiny fraction of the actual experience, I still think it has value. Any understanding that prepares you for enlightenment, or that helps you understand the viewpoint of one who is enlightened, seems useful to me.
If you actually were only your body, you would be like an amoeba, moving towards food and comfortable conditions, and away from uncomfortable conditions – the basic functions of the body. Any level of mind or consciousness doesn’t seem like it would be there, just basic functioning – food and reproduction. Pain might not mean anything. To quote Wikipedia:
…the ability to detect noxious stimuli which evokes a reflexresponse that moves the entire animal, or the affected part of its body, away from the source of the stimulus. The concept of nociception does not imply any adverse, subjective feeling; it is a reflex action.
To feel something as pain, there has to be a meaning. Again, quoting Wikipedia:
…the internal, emotional interpretation of the nociceptive experience.
While a response to a stimuli can be measured in animals, even very low level animals, we have no way to know if there is any meaning attached. Can a body feel love? The same questions arise: love is a meaningful experience. Does a bull elk ‘love’ his mates? It seems unlikely. He is simply rounding up a harem for the physical pleasure of procreation.
That seems to be level of being only the body.
Looking at the mind, the place where many people think they must exist as a self, the mind consists of thoughts, and some people feel that emotions are felt in the mind as well. (Dr. Hawkins states that consciousness experiences the mind – the mind cannot experience itself.)
In this intellectual exercise, let’s consider Spock from Star Trek. Spock is the character who uses only logic and felt no emotions. That seems to be a valid look at the mind. His ability to feel bodily pain was there but he used only logic to respond, as if the pain had no emotional meaning for him. Where the usual human character might be groaning in pain, feeling endangered, and wondering what the pain meant, worrying about whether it would heal, Spock seemed to only have a logical response.
Is that what it would be like to exist only at the level of the mind?
For most of us, we include emotions as part of our sense of who we are. (This would be the usual human described above.) We have feelings. We are conscious of these, as well as the operations of the mind. This is where almost everyone has their sense of self, I suspect – rooted in their feelings and the meanings they have given events in their lives. We are well experienced at using this viewpoint. This is the viewpoint of consciousness.
What if we used the viewpoint of the All? The viewpoint of the infinite awareness Dr. Hawkins talks about? It seems that our petty concerns with ourselves would be over – there would be no ‘self’ to consider. We might feel at one with everyone and everything, seeing it all as part of the ‘I’.
Is it possible to use this viewpoint without actually being enlightened? It’s an intellectual exercise, to be sure. But perhaps useful in opening our minds further.